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Utah Advance Health Care Directive - Salt Lake Attorney

An advance health care directive (sometimes referred to as a "living will") is an important part of any Utah estate plan.  An advance health care directive allows you to create a living will, and to name an agent for your health care power of attorney who can make health care decisions for you when you are not able to do so. It also allows you to express your wishes with regard to those decisions as well as end-of-life health care choices. As a Utah estate planning attorney, Stephen Howard is prepared to assist you in preparing you advance health care directive, last will and testament, living trust, and other important estate planning documents. Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

Appointing a Health Care Agent or Power of Attorney in Utah

Utah Advance Health Care Directive An advance health care directive performs several important functions as part of your overall Utah estate plan. Most important, a Utah advance health care directive allows you to designate an "agent" (the person who is given a health care power of attorney) who is authorized to act in the event that you are not able to speak for yourself or no longer have health care decision making capacity (as defined in Utah Code 75-2a-104). An alternate agent can also be named to serve in the event the primary agent is unable or unwilling to serve.

The powers granted to an agent under an advance health care directive can range from selecting health care providers and making basic health care decisions to consenting to participation in medical research and organ donation. But the agent cannot force health care against your will, even if it is determined that you lack health care decision making capacity. You may also consider whether you want your agent to have authority to obtain copies of your medical records while you are still able to speak for yourself.

One purpose of an advance health care directive is to help avoid the need for a guardianship. But an advance health care directive can provide you with the opportunity to nominate the person you want to have act as guardian for you, in the event that a guardianship becomes necessary.

Living Will Provisions of a Utah Advance Health Care Directive

A standard advance health directive in Utah also contains provisions that are sometimes referred to as a "living will."  These provisions allow a person to state their health care wishes as they relate to end-of-life care. In broad terms, the three options available are: 1) to prolong life as long as possible within the limits of generally accepted health care standards; 2) to not receive care for the purpose of prolonging life (while still receiving comfort care); or 3) to let the person's agent decide. End-of-life decisions raise difficult issues for family members and loved ones, even when a person has previously executed an advance health care directive. Openly discussing your wishes with your agent before a crisis arises can make a difficult time a little less stressful for those who care about you.

Changing or Revoking a Utah Advance Health Care Directive

An advance health care directive can be revoked or changed under Utah law in several ways. To completely revoke and advance health care directive, a person can write "VOID" across the document, or can simply tear, burn, or otherwise destroy the document, or may direct another person to do so. To make changes to a previously executed advance health care directive, it is best to execute an entirely new advance health care directive.

How to Make it Legal

To make an advance health care legally binding in Utah, it must be signed in the presence of a witness who meets certain requirements, including the following: is 18 years of age or older; is not related by blood or marriage; has no claim to inherit any portion of the person's estate; is not a beneficiary of any life insurance policy, trust, pay on death account, or other similar property; is not directly financially responsible for the person's medical care; is not a health care provider or administrator at a facility that is providing health care to the person; will not be entitled to any interest in the person's property upon the person's death; and is not the person named as the agent in the advance health care directive. The advance health care directive requires only one witness (unlike a last will and testament), and does not need to be notarized.

Finding an Estate Planning Attorney in Utah

For assistance in preparing your Utah advance health care directive or in drafting other important estate planning documents including a last will and testament, living trust, and durable power of attorney, contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation with Utah estate planning attorney Stephen Howard.


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Stephen W. Howard is Utah attorney, practicing as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC.
With offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties, we are pleased to provide legal services to clients throughout Utah.
Call 801-449-1409 to arrange for a confidential initial consultation.

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